INTERNATIONAL: Tennis world number one Daniil Medvedev says that he is thankful to be competing amid a global crackdown on Russian athletes.
Men's tennis world number Daniil Medvedev has admitted his relief at being able to compete on the global stage despite calls from a Ukrainian player for the ATP and WTA Tours to follow in the footsteps of major sporting organizations that have banned Russian players.
Medvedev, who recently usurped Novak Djokovic at the summit of the rankings, needs to reach at least the quarterfinals of the Indian Wells Masters to keep his position at the top of the sport – and is on his way to doing so after easing past Czech player Tomas Machac in straight sets to reach the third round in California.
“I think I was pretty consistent,” said Medvedev after the match. “If you look at the first set, it was pretty even. He made a few unforced errors and maybe some bad decisions in the crucial moments. That’s how tennis is sometimes.
“The scoreline might be pretty effective – 6-3, 6-2 – but if you look at the points and the games, it was not as easy as it seems.
So I’m happy that I managed to pull through and be the most consistent player." The tournament takes place in an unusual climate where the dry desert air makes the courts slow.
“It’s always strange here, the conditions," said Medvedev. "You need a lot of time to get used to the conditions, and at the same time it’s a great place to be, so everybody comes one week, one week and a half before the tournament because of both reasons.
“That’s what I’ve done and I feel great, so hopefully I can do better than the previous times.”
The 26-year-old is currently competing under a neutral flag in an example of the sporting sanctions placed upon Russian athletes since the start of the Ukraine conflict last month.
FIFA and UEFA have barred Russian teams from taking part in competitions and the 2022 Champions League Final in May has been moved from St. Petersburg to Paris.
The Russian team was not allowed to take part in the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing and Formula One rookie Nikita Mazepin was dropped by American team Haas ahead of the new season.
Australian Open finalist Medvedev joined fellow Russian contender Karen Khachanov in removing his national flag from his Instagram account, but tennis chiefs have not added any further sanctions to the neutrality order.
Medvedev's win came after Ukrainian ace Marta Kostyuk called for Russian players to be banned from the tours, saying that seeing them at competitions "really hurts".
"And seeing them having the only problem not being able to transfer the money [because of financial sanctions imposed on Russia] and stuff – that’s what they are talking about – this is unacceptable for me," the 19-year-old added, via AFP.
I don’t agree with the action that has been taken [by tennis leaders]," she said. "Look at the other sports, look at the big sports, what they did – that’s it.
"You don’t have to be involved in politics to behave like a human being. Everyone knows what’s going on.
"It hurts me. It hurts me every time I arrive at the stadium and see all these Russian players."
Medvedev said: "It's definitely not for me to decide. I follow the rules, I cannot do anything else.
"Right now, the rule is that we can [play] under a neutral flag. I want to play my favorite sport. I'm going to be there to try to play for the fans, play for the people, for myself.
"Tennis is a very individual sport. So far, [the stronger sanctions] we are seeing are more [in] national teams or some team sports. Let's see how the situation evolves.
“I’m just pleased to be here and playing the sport I love. The fans were very good to me in this game.
"This is the first time I have heard this and people clapped, so thanks a lot for the nice welcome.”
Medvedev will again be in action on Monday, when he will face France's, Gael Monfils.
World number 28 Monfils married Ukrainian player Elina Svitolina in July 2021.